Free Market Does Not Mean Pro-Business

I hate the term "pro-business."  In my mind, it helps to define what is wrong with the political choices we are presented with in this country.  All of us in civics class were taught the statist "heads I win, tails you lose" political spectrum from left to right.  On this spectrum, everyone is in favor of government intervention and the sacrifice of one group of people to another.  The only thing that varies across the scale is who is the beneficiary of the plunder and the targeted areas of intervention.  For years, most of the politicians who have called themselves "pro-business" were not free market capitalists -- they spent much of their time in office sending their businessman-buddies slices of pork, zoning variations, special permission to trash other people's property (e.g. via pollution) etc.

Beyond the fact that we small government libertarians and anarcho-capitalists are given no spot on the civics class political spectrum, I have always been frustrated at being lumped together with "pro-business" politicians, and have been asked to defend (which I won't and can't) various subsidies and corporate welfare.  An example of my attacks on this type of corporate welfare crap are here and here.

So, without further comment, I present this great except from an article by Gary North of the Mises Institute:

The idea that businessmen are strong defenders of the free
enterprise system is one which is believed only by those who have never
studied the history of private enterprise in the Western, industrial
nations. What businessmen are paid to worry about is profit. The
problem for the survival of a market economy arises when the voters
permit or encourage the expansion of government power to such an extent
that private businesses can gain short-term profits through the
intervention into the competitive market by state officials. Offer the
typical businessman the opportunity to escape the constant pressures of
market competition, and few of them are able to withstand the
temptation. In fact, they are rewarded for taking the step of calling
in the civil government.

The government's officials approve, but more to the point, from the
point of view of the businessman's understanding of his role,
shareholders and new investors also approve, since the favored
enterprise is initially blessed with increased earnings per share. The
business leader has his decision confirmed by the crucial standards of
reference in the market, namely, rising profits and rising share prices
on the stock market. No one pays the entrepreneur to be ideologically
pure. Almost everyone pays him to turn a profit.

This being the case, those within the government possess an
extremely potent device for expanding political power. By a
comprehensive program of direct political intervention into the market,
government officials can steadily reduce the opposition of businessmen
to the transformation of the market into a bureaucratic, regulated, and
even centrally-directed organization. Bureaucracy replaces
entrepreneurship as the principal form of economic planning.
Bureaucrats can use the time-honored pair of motivational approaches:
the carrot and the stick. The carrot is by far the most effective
device when dealing with profit-seeking businessmen.

Those individual enterprises that are expected to benefit from some
new government program have every short-run financial incentive to
promote the intervention, while those whose interests are likely to be
affected adversely "” rival firms, foreign enterprises, and especially
consumers "” find it expensive to organize their opposition, since the
adverse effects are either not recognized as stemming from the
particular government program, or else the potential opponents are
scattered over too wide an area to be organized inexpensively. The
efforts of the potential short-run beneficiaries are concentrated and
immediately profitable; the efforts of the potential losers are
dispersed and usually ineffective.